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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

THE FAMINE OF 1877-78.                                           25
naturally greatest among the agricultural labourers, who were thown out of all
employ by the cessation of work in the fields, while even In the towns the petty
handicraftsmen were unable to purchase sufficient food for their daily subsist-
ence on account of the high prices that prevailed in the bazar. In addition to
its normal population the city was further thronged by crowds of refugees from
outside, from the adjoining native states, more especially Bharat-pur, who were
attracted by the fame oŁ the many charitable institutions that exist both in the
city itself and at Brinda-ban. "No relief works on the part of the Government
were started till October, when they were commenced in different places all
over the district under the supervision of the resident Engineer. They con-
sisted chiefly of the ordinary repairs and improvements to the roads, which are
annually earned out after the cessation of the rains. The expense incurred
under this head was Bs. 17,762, the average daily attendance being 5,51&»
On the 25th of November in the same year (1877) it was found necessary to
open a poorhouse in the city for the relief of those who were too feeble to work.
Here the daily average attendance was 890 ; but, on the 30th July, 1878, the
number of inmates amounted to 2,139, and this was unquestionably the time
when the distress was at its highest. The maximum attendance at the relief
works, however, was not reached till a little later, viz., the 19th of August,
when it was 20,483, but it would seem to have been artificially increased by
the unnecessarily high rates which the Government was then paying.
The rabi crops, sown after the fall of rain in October, 1877, had been fur-
ther benefited by unusually heavy winter rains, and It was hoped that there
would be a magnificent outturn. In the end, however, It proved to be even
below the average, great damage having been done by the high winds which
blew In February. Thus, ihotigh the spring harvest of 1878 gave some relief
It was but slight, and necessarily it could not affect at all the prices of the
common autumn grains. The long-continued privation had alri had its effect
upon the people both physically and mentally, and they were less able to strug-
gle against their misfortunes. The rains for 1878 were, moreover, very slight
and partial and so long delayed that they had scarcely set In by the end of
July, and thus it was, as already stated, that this month was the time when
the famine was at its climax. In August and September matters steadily Im-
proved, and henceforth continued to do so ; but -the poorhouse was not closed
till the end of June, 1879. The total number of inmates had then been
395,824, who had been relieved at a total cost of Bs. 43,070, of which sum
Bs. 2,990 had been raised by private subscription and Bs. 3,500 was a grant
from the Municipality.
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